October 2, 2017

Not So Retired: Former Educators Find Roles at SASSO


Oct. 2, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio – 16-39 years: the range of experience seven professional tutors had as K-12 educators before joining the team at the Student Athlete Support Services Office. Now retired from full-time school positions, they use their knowledge and skills to help students navigate course material, learn effective study strategies and promote independent learning.

“Even though I had recently retired from teaching, I wasn’t ready to stop teaching (or working!),” says Colleen Crook, a former Columbus City Schools middle school teacher.

Crook and her peers are part of a larger staff – 38 student tutors and 44 professional tutors – who provide academic support for student-athletes. They use their skills in study strategies, note-taking, and reading comprehension to help Buckeyes learn material, prepare for exams, and succeed in the classroom.

Dan Everetts, a former math teacher, explains the differences between teaching and tutoring.

“As a tutor, your job is to enhance the learning process for the student, while as a teacher you are primarily responsible for the learning process.”

Everetts uses his background to help Buckeyes learn material in pre-college math and college algebra, while Brenda Bender works with student-athletes on humanities based courses. She recently shared a successful moment from one of her sessions where she was able to impart her knowledge from teaching.

“Just recently I taught a student a method of reading textbooks for meaning. I have been using this method for 35 years so it is not new to me,” she explains. A new method for the student, he instantly recognized its helpfulness and practiced using it with Bender.

“The first thing he said to me during our [next] session was, “I used the method last night and I’ve got my notes here. Let’s go over them!” It was something so simple but it made me feel good to hear he was helped,” says Bender.

Each tutor has special moments that resonate from their time in SASSO – from academic success stories to overcoming obstacles, tutors find their role rewarding and enjoy working with student-athletes.

“Getting to know the student-athletes has created many good memories,” says Dave Brown, a former American history and special education teacher. “Their personalities are so diverse.”

Sam Hopkins, a former English teacher, guidance counselor, and coach, credits student-athletes’ inherent “professionalism and drive for success” as contributing factors to their academic achievements.

When asked what wisdom they would share with new tutors in SASSO, Donna Wilkinson shared this: “Try to convey your excitement about learning every day. The students already know how to excel in their athletic environment but many don’t feel the same comfort level as scholars.” Wilkinson is nearing her fourth year in SASSO and has worked with student-athletes from many academic backgrounds.

Student-athletes from all majors, years, and teams participate in the instructional support services provided by SASSO. During the 2016-2017 year, over 17,300 tutoring appointments were held in 277 different courses. SASSO is thankful to the student and professional tutors who play a valuable role in creating an environment that meets the educational needs of student-athletes.